- Properties and Uses of Iowa Hardwoods
- Forest Service: Drying Lumber
- Forest Service: Drying Hardwood Lumber
- Air Drying of Lumber
- Kiln Drying
- Determining Moisture Content
- Grading Hardwood
Woodland owners may elect to process standing trees on their property for personal use. Cutting, milling, drying, and machining native lumber may or may not save money compared to buying from commercial sources. But individuals just may prefer to use their own resources for specific applications. If native hardwoods are to perform satisfactorily, definite guidelines should be followed.
Match the Species to the Intended Use
First, match the species to the intended use. Become familiar with the characteristics of the different woods on your property, and select the right one for the job. Don't use low strength, soft woods where a strong, hard wood is required. If the application calls for a wood with low shrinkage and good workability, choose the right species.
Wood is Dried to the Correct Moisture Content
Second, make sure the wood is dried to the correct moisture content. Wood used outdoors needs to be dried to 12 to 15 percent moisture content. This level of moisture content can be realized by thoroughly air drying lumber using recommended stacking methods and exposure conditions. However, wood used indoors for furniture, paneling, or trim must be dried to a moisture content between six and eight percent. The lower level of moisture content cannot be achieved by air drying; special lumber dry kilns that control temperature, humidity, and air movement are typically used to achieve this lower level of moisture content.
Finish or Treat the Wood
Third, a finish or treatment will generally enhance the performance of hardwood lumber. When using hardwoods outside, a preservative treatment or an exterior stain may be the best choice. For interior applications where a high level of durability is required and a clear finish is desired, several coats of polyurethane varnish is recommended.